Justice Playthrough #156: Daily Chthonicle

Less of a “game,” more of an “elaborate idea for a game.” This is not good, but this one feels like somebody’s baby.

Page 13, Game 12: Daily Chthonicle by charon@ss

You’re running a newspaper, the eponymous Daily Chthonicle, investigating all the goings on in City! The terrible, horrible City. Apparently, horrid Lovecraftian shit is just another Tuesday around here. Monsters, occult murders, mysterious walls of fire, locked doors….

OH NO GIRL THAT DOOR FUCKED YOU UP!!!!

The Big Map will present all the stories you may investigate. Click the story, then click the reporter you want to assign to it! Which reporter? I … don’t think it matters? Some of them have some personal gear, I guess. And some of them apparently know some magic or something. I don’t know. Just pick somebody.

Reporters hard at work! Who are those people in the middle? Or on the bottom right? I’m … honestly not sure.

Your reporters hit the field, and they’ll eventually hit decision points. Obstacles! Leads! What do they do?

For obstacles, I found that it was best to just hit auto-equip and hope for the best. In addition to dangers like walls and locked doors, you can encounter gangsters! Or giant tentacle monsters! Or — the most dangerous and impenetrable — a mentally ill informant!

Also, there are like ghosts and shit, which seems like they’d be a big deal to a pack of reporters, but nah. This place is basically hell on earth.

The dog is ALWAYS useful. ALWAYS bring the dog, yo.

Your reporters can get injured, or get unsettled by what they see, or … sometimes, much worse.

I’m pretty sure workman’s comp in this town actually covers zombification, so you’re fine, bro

As your reporters progress, they put together the stories, which I’m pretty sure are procedurally generated. If they make enough progress, the stories come together, and you’ll publish them.

Dude came back from the BALKANS?! PRINT THAT SHIT!!!

The problem with Daily Chthonicle is that there’s a lot of COMPLEXITY here — imposing amounts of it actually — but very goddamned little GAME, at least not that I saw. I was just getting spammed with information left and right, and it wasn’t engaging me at all. Was I expected to take notes on the (what I suspect were) procedurally generated names and situations and try to find some common threads? My people were investigating, like, five different stories at a time, and they very quickly blurred together.

Except for the one with the zombie mastodon. I don’t recall what context that enormous decomposing fucker appeared in or why, I just know that at one point, there was a zombie fucking mastodon. I just know it was an obstacle preventing my reporters from making progress in the story, even though I feel like “HOLY FUCKING SHIT THERE’S A GIANT ZOMBIE MASTODON YOU GUYS!!!” is a pretty solid headliner all by itself.

Not that I seemed to have much choice. Was I supposed to be picking WHICH stories I ran? I just kinda clicked where the game seemed to want me to click, which caused stories to run and money to appear. Yay?

Eventually, all the stories were investigated to completion and the tutorial was over.

Feel like those spiders warranted more than two lines

Yeah, this feeling of being overwhelmed and spammed with information came from the tutorial.

There was a laboratory (like any good newspaper has) and my people could learn magic. What did any of that stuff do? How was I supposed to apply it to the game? I have no idea, and the tutorial never clued me in.

I feel like this is all very interesting and compelling to somebody, I’m just absolutely certain that person isn’t me. I admire the ambition behind this game, at least, but the presentation is a mess. There’s just SO MUCH going on here, yet none of it ever engaged me. This is a Lovecraft-inspired game, yet not once did I feel any kind of dread, or even a sense of tension.

The stories my people investigated always felt like wire frameworks to me, like the vague outlines with nothing to fill them in. The guy did a thing in a place, that’s probably bad, and hey there’s a ghost or a wall or something and your reporter will have to find their way around it. What will they use to do it? Eh, just do auto-equip, that’ll be for the best.

Make sure you bring the dog, though. Seriously, that dog helps with everything.

If you find the idea behind the game irresistible, I suppose there’s no harm in giving it a look; it didn’t actively offend me. But I just can’t recommend it.

With this next game provide me with a Swiss Army Dog who is helpful in all situations?

Page 14, Game 1: Saviors of Hogtown by Dissonance

“A Dungeon World adventure supplement for 3-6 players.”

Hogtown, Dogtown, whatever farm animal of war Lana, shut up!